“The Making of the Ordinary Child in Preschool”.

Alasuutari, M.
Markström, A-M.
Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 55(5), 517-535.


The purpose of this study is to examine how child carers and parents evaluate children in interviews with parents. The study examines how institutional order creates “the ordinary child”, and how child carers and parents articulate their views and opinions on what children are like and what they should be like when institutional order is to be upheld.


The study shows that the most important expectation for children is that they should be socially competent. This expectation is more often articulated than expectations for education and learning. The institutional expectations and requirements placed on the children vary according to gender, and the study shows that situations when girls break the norms are discussed to a higher degree than when boys break the norms. Attention is only paid to boys who break the norms when their behaviour is perceived as problematic or aggressive.


The study is based on 54 interviews between child carers and Finnish and Swedish parents of a total of 62 children. All interviews were recorded by the child carers. The interviews between the Swedish participants have been collected at eight daycare centres in six towns with 3,000 inhabitants in the smallest town and 160,000 inhabitants in the largest. The interviews lasted one hour on average, but varied in length from 20 minutes to 1½ hours. The 54 interviews have been transcribed, and the data material has been analysed on the basis of a discourse analysis approach. The authors based their work on a social constructionist thesis that cultural and accessible discourses will form and determine the direction for actions in the interaction between people, including communication.


Alasuutari, M. & Markström, A-M. (2011). “The Making of the Ordinary Child in Preschool”. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 55(5), 517-535.

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